Tulsa Pipeline Injury Lawyers
Helping families and survivors file personal injury claims when pipeline deaths or injuries occur
Oklahoma serves as the crossroads of a vast network of pipelines that gather, transport, and deliver oil, natural gas, biofuels, and liquid petroleum products throughout the country. Cushing, Oklahoma is known as the crossroads of energy in America. Because of this, Oklahoma attracts thousands of workers who work constructing pipelines that are used to transfer and store oil and natural gas. The industry frequently offers high pay because the works Is dangerous, physically demanding, and emotionally very strenuous. When something goes wrong in this industry, workers can sustain catastrophic injuries or lose their lives in an instant.
At Biby Law Firm, our Tulsa oil field injury attorneys are experienced in discovering why pipeline injuries occur, who is responsible, and what types of claims can be brought. We explain when negligence claims can be filed. Our legal team has the experience and resources to help you get justice.
What is America’s pipeline network?
According to Fractracker.com, most pipelines are buried underground. The US network consists of more than 1.2 million miles of pipelines for natural gas and almost 150,000 miles of pipeline for petroleum products. The US network is larger than another other country’s network.
Natural gas pipelines transport natural gas from gas wells and import/export facilities to homes, businesses export facilities, and other locations. There are three types of natural gas pipelines:
- Pipelines for gathering the “raw material for production wells”
- Pipelines for transmission
- Pipelines for distribution
Petroleum pipelines transport crude oil or natural gas liquids. The three types of petroleum pipelines are:
- Gathering pipelines
- Crude oil pipelines
- Refined product pipelines
Various federal and state agencies regulate these pipelines including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA), and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Bloomberg.com, “oil industry supporters argue that pipelines are safer alternative to hauling fuel by tanker trucks or freight trains.” Environmentalists counter that pipelines are not properly regulated and that it’s extremely difficult to maintain the extensive pipeline network which is aging and causes fires, spills, and other pipeline accidents.
Why do pipeline accidents occur?
Pipelines can fail any number of reasons. The most common usually involve:
- Old age. Because of their old age and because they aren’t properly maintained, equipment and structures are often unsound. According to Inside Energy, about 45% of Us crude oil pipelines are more than 50 years old. Some pipelines date back to the 1920s. Old pipelines are likely to leak or fail because they were built before national and local safety standards took effect.
- Regulation failures. Failure to follow the current federal and state regulations of the corresponding agencies that govern how they are built and maintained.
- Explosions and fires. Fires can occur in an instant because oil is highly flammable. The fire can then cause an explosion.
- Damage due to external forces. External pressures that can damage pipelines include heavy equipment that is placed on the pipes or heavy vehicles that run over the pipes.
- Environmental damage. Harsh weather such as floods, thunderstorms, and lightning can damage the pipes.
When pipes are damaged due to a break, a crack, or corrosion, the pipes can cause dangerous leaks and spills of hazardous toxins which can ignite. Other causes of pipeline accidents include damage due to excavation and welding defects.
How dangerous are pipeline leaks?
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) keeps statistics on how often pipeline failures occur. One set of data points PHMSA keeps is leak management which is defined as “the total number of leaks repaired per mile, the total number of hazardous leaks repaired per mile, and the total leaks scheduled for repair per mile for gas distribution systems in each state.”
The PHMSA provides an overview of the status of gas distribution pipeline systems in each state and the efforts to locate, evaluate, and repair and mitigate leaks. In 2019, 118 hazardous leaks, as of July 6, have been repaired in Oklahoma.
What kinds of injuries are caused by pipeline accidents?
Pipeline blowouts and leaks can cause a number of serious, catastrophic injuries, depending on the circumstances. Some of the more common include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic injuries to the brain and head
- Neck, back, and shoulder injuries
- Muscle damage
- Toxic exposure
Filing a claim for injuries related to Oklahoma pipeline accidents
Employees are required to file for workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured while working on or near a pipeline. Benefits normally cover 70% of lost income and 100% of medical expenses. There is no requirement to prove fault.
Non-employees such as contractors and bystanders can file a personal injury claim for 100% of lost wages, all their medical expenses, and their physical pain and emotional suffering.
Owners of the pipelines and any entities responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the pipelines may be liable if:
- They failed to properly mark where the pipelines are
- Failed to properly maintain the pipelines
- Failed to properly install the pipelines
- Used materials of poor quality
- Didn’t train their workers
- Didn’t have proper safety procedures
Delay can hurt your case. It’s important to speak with our skilled Tulsa pipeline injury lawyers as soon as possible so we can determine the cause of the accident, who is responsible, and what type of claim you can file. We’ve helped individuals and families who have been injured because of pipeline and oil rig injuries and deaths.
Speak with an experienced Oklahoma pipeline injury lawyer today
If a loved one was killed or you have sustained serious injuries while working on a pipeline, Biby Law Firm can help. Our experienced Tulsa oil & gas injury attorneys represent Oklahoma victims and their families. Call us at 918-574-8458 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis. We fight for families and victims throughout Oklahoma including the communities of Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Bixby, Claremore, Jenks, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Wagoner, Muskogee, and the surrounding areas.